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Unpaid Greek Journalists Keep Left-Wing Newspaper, Eleftherotypia, Alive Despite Bankruptcy

A group of Greek journalists who have not been paid since last August have been selflessly producing special edition newspapers in the hope that their paper can still be saved and their voices heard, the UK's Guardian reports.

Until recently, Eleftherotypia was Greece's second-biggest newspaper. Founded after the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974, the left-wing daily took pride in its independent reporting and holistic approach to national news.

"This was a good paper and I believe in it," said Yannis Bogiopoulos, a former feature writer. "It campaigned against corruption; we were sued by politicians, often…This was a strong, free, independent voice on the left. Nobody ever told me what to write. Not once."

However, like many Greek institutions, Eleftherotypia -- which means "freedom of the press" -- crumbled in the face of the country's shrinking economy. In December 2011, several months after the newspaper stopped paying its employees, Eleftherotypia filed for bankruptcy and shut its doors.

But even in the face of defeat, many of the paper's employees were unwilling to give up, reports.

"I want to save my work, and save this paper," Bogiopoulos said.

He is not the only one.

Since the newspaper's demise, about 120 Eleftherotypia journalists and production staff have been producing special edition newspapers -- full 80 pages of news and commentary -- for a loyal readership. Under the banner "Workers at Eleftherotypia," they have produced two papers thus far and a third is slated to be published on the day before the general election re-run. According to Take The Square, the newspaper was published with the helps of press workers' unions and edited in a "friendly workshop."

"We're making one last effort," Christos Zervas, a senior roving reporter, told the Guardian. "We want to send a message to the public, the market and our owners that we are still here, that we can still make a very good newspaper, that plenty of people will still buy it, and that something should now be done."

With the first two editions selling more than 30,000 copies and reaching a wider audience than its original readership, points out that the Workers at Eleftherotypia may have actually managed to turn the paper into an even "greater success."

However, despite the positive response, there are fears that with Greece's ever-worsening recession, the upcoming third edition will be Eleftherotypia's last.

But some employees, like Bogiopoulos, are holding on to a glimmer of faith -- believing that the paper, with some shared effort, can still emerge as a smaller co-operative, run by its staff for its staff.

"I think co-ops, more broadly, are the way ahead, to restart the economy," he told the Guardian. "People have always helped people in Greece. We have to get back to that."

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